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Teuvo Teravainen hopes to guide Blackhawks back to contention: ‘Let's get to work'

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Teuvo Teravainen and the Chicago Blackhawks reunited on Day 1 of NHL free agency after agreeing to terms on a three-year contract at a cap hit of $5.4 million. He's officially back.

On Tuesday, Teravainen met with the media over Zoom for the first time since his signing. Fittingly, he was sporting a Blackhawks hat.

"I found the old hat laying around in some corner," Teravainen said. "Figured to put it on."

Teravainen was originally selected by the Blackhawks with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. He played three years in Chicago and was part of the 2015 Stanley Cup-winning team before being traded for salary cap reasons to Carolina, where he has spent the last eight seasons.

Teravainen wanted the reunion probably just as much as the Chicago fanbase.

"It's awesome to be back," Teravainen said. "I kind of knew they were a little bit interested, and also for myself, when I heard they might be interested, I was right away very interested. I had a few options, but I felt like it’s the right path for me right now, so excited. Kind of easy because I know the city, I have good memories from there, so easy decision."

When the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2015, Teravainen was playing in more of a third-line role. He was a key part of their penalty kill unit as well.

Fast forward to now, and Teravainen — who scored a career-high 25 goals last season — is a four-time 60-point producer and four-time 20-goal scorer. He should give the Blackhawks an immediate boost inside the top-six and on both special teams units.

"I was a different player back then," Teravainen said. "The whole kind of game, taking a step by step, better every year. A long time in Carolina so I learned to play how they play over there, so it’s been great years over there. I’m almost 30 right now so I should be a little bit older and a better player. Hopefully I can bring a little of everything, experience and all-around play."

The idea of playing with Connor Bedard was also appealing to Teravainen.

"Yeah, of course," Teravainen said. "I haven’t seen him play much live but of course I’ve seen all the highlights. He seems like a pretty good player. Young for sure, but hopefully I can help him get better. But that would be, of course, cool to play with him."

The locker room has changed dramatically since the last time he was with the Blackhawks. There are no more players left from any of the three Stanley Cup teams.

There will, however, be at least one familiar face in the organization: Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson, who shared a terrific story last week about his unique relationship with Teravainen.

Davidson, who started his Blackhawks tenure in 2010 as a hockey operations intern, said he was the one that picked up Teravainen from the airport when he came over from Finland for the very first time to join the Blackhawks.

"I don't even know if he remembers me or knows that that guy that picked him up is the same person that signed him now," Davidson said. "Teuvo was the one that I picked up and spent the most time with because he was younger and he was by far the youngest, and so made sure he was comfortable here in Chicago. I think I was probably his first friend over here until he navigated the locker room and found some guys to hang out with there, and then they let him go with the team after that.

"It's funny to kind of see that come full circle where I'm signing him to a new contract and bringing him in as a veteran player when I picked him up at the airport as the youngest player in the team at the time. ... Whether he knows it or not, we've got a little bit more history there than he may understand."

Teravainen was asked for his perspective and acknowledged he does, in fact, recall Davidson picking him up from Chicago O'Hare and being the one to show him around the city.

"I do remember that," Teravainen said. "It's kind of a funny story right now, he's the GM and not the driver anymore. It was a long time ago, but I remember hanging out with him a little bit and he was driving me around and helping with the small things. 

"I was a young player and I didn't really know anything about anything, I just came from Europe, so it was awesome to have some people help me out. He seemed like a good guy back then so it's not a big surprise where he is right now."

Teravainen probably leaned on Davidson quite a bit as he got acclimated to North America a decade ago, and, in some ways, it feels like the roles will be reversed in their second go-around together. The Blackhawks are hoping to take the next step in their rebuild, and Davidson is hoping he can count on Teravainen to be one of the pieces to make them more competitive on the ice and to impart his wisdom on some of the younger players off of it.

Teravainen knows what it's like to experience playoff hockey in Chicago. He's motivated to be part of the group that helps bring the Blackhawks back to being a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

"I have good memories from there," Teravainen said. "I don’t know, I just felt it was a good path for me right now. I can join a young team, hopefully I can help them get back to the playoffs, get back to where the good teams are. I feel like that’s a really nice, exciting chance for me to be a part of something like that.

"Of course winning is more fun than losing so I want to do it right away, but hopefully we can get there as soon as we can. Let’s get to work in Chicago so hopefully we can get there."

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